The possibility of opening boom gates which have closed off vehicle access along Point Moore will be up for discussion at this month’s council meeting, according to the City’s Mayor. The gates were installed last year due to storm surges eating away at the coast. Recreational use of Point Moore was put on hold following winter storms, high swells and high tides that left the beach eroded to the base of the dunes, creating an unsafe space for four-wheel-drive access. After a community survey of almost 800 people in September 2021, the boom gates were installed at vehicle access tracks along the beach to protect the coastal vegetation while also prioritising the safety of beach users. The gates, installed in June 2022, were to allow vehicle assess when conditions permitted, but have remained shut since. Mayor Shane Van Styn said the community was divided over access to the beach and he would propose to discuss the matter at the council meeting on Tuesday, March 28. “There’s a large number of people that want to see it permanently closed to cars to protect wildlife and the recovery of the beach, and there’s also a very large section of the community that wants to see it opened up to 4WDs,” he said. Mr Van Styn said it was a “tricky issue” but believed the current conditions on the coast should allow for vehicle access but understood community concerns. “Being able to drive onto the beach in a responsible way is a very fortunate thing you get to do in Geraldton, it’s something not many places in Australia allow you to do,” he said. “We do run the risk of people driving irresponsibly. Due to recent tide surges the fencing that protects the dunes is no longer there, so we’d have to rely on the good will and behaviour of the public to not destroy the dune system should we open them up.” Mr Van Styn said it was difficult to predict how the discussion would go as it was a contentious subject for the community. “Council has previously said that the gates are a temporary protection measure but it’s very hard to read the room and ultimately that decision is going to be made by council,” he said. Bird photographer Peter Russell said since October last year he had noticed migratory birds resting in the area and believed there was “no reason for people to access the beach by 4WD”. “There are many options for people to access the beach, it just chews the beach up. It’s more laziness than anything,” he said. The Point Moore Beach Usage Community Survey found 95 per cent of respondents said protecting the dune system at Point Moore was important but less than 15 per cent wanted vehicle access prohibited. The majority of the respondents (59 per cent) said they visited Point Moore beaches at least once a week and 66 per cent said they drove on the beach.